Book 11: The Continental Advanced Academy Soul Dueling Tournament
Chapter 72.1: Hand of Death—Envoys of the Death God!
Ma Xiaotao and Dai Yueheng however, didn't realise that Huo Yuhao had buried his fists into the soil beneath him.
Only one wife? He's very self-disciplined when it comes to women? What does my mother count as, then? The hatred he'd suppressed for so long grew even stronger when he heard Dai Yueheng. Perhaps he is a national hero, but he's definitely not a qualified husband or father. If he'd intervened, mom would've…
The sky had already dimmed by this point, such that it was difficult to even see one's own hands in front of them beneath the cover the forest. At that moment, Wang Yan returned.
"Everyone, come here for a moment." Wang Yan waved everyone towards him.
The students from the outer courtyard immediately moved towards him, while the seven from the inner courtyard were somewhat impatient. In terms of cultivation alone, Wang Yan was just a Soul King, which meant that he was merely on par with them. Moreover, he was merely a teacher from the outer courtyard; as students from the inner courtyard, they only recognised strength. As such, they didn't truly respect a teacher like Wang Yan, who wasn't much stronger than them. However, a teacher was still a teacher, thus they still decided to give him some face.
"I just finished scouting out the area around us," Wang Yan said in a low voice, "combined with the observations we made on our journey here, I've made a few discoveries.
"I found a few Warm Mist Trees near us. For those of you who don't know, a Warm Mist Tree is a relatively rare type of tree whose core can be used to produce medicine. Its trunk is as hard as steel, which makes it extremely suitable to be used in various types of furniture. During its growth, it has rather stringent oxygen requirements; only areas that have high levels of vegetation are suitable for them. An old book I once read stated that Warm Mist Trees only grow in areas that're at least fifty miles deep into a forest. Furthermore, it stated that these trees like the coldness of Yin, thus their cores can help soul masters with Yin-attributed martial souls."
Ma Xiaotao furrowed her brows. "Teacher Wang, what're you trying to say?"
Wang Yan replied, "What I mean is that the appearance of these Warm Mist Trees signifies that we've entered the core region of the Ming Dou Mountain Range. At the very least, we've reached its border. Moreover, based on the information we've been given, the leader of the Hand of Death might be an evil soul master. I found this just now."
He then retrieved a tree trunk from his storage-type soul tool. The tree trunk appeared to have been snapped in half by something, and a cylindrical hole was present within it.
Wang Yan said, "This is the Warm Mist Tree. Its core is normally dark-blue, but as you can see, it's missing. In other words, it's been removed by someone. Considering who our target is this time, we can make a bold conjecture that this was done by either the leader of the bandits or by one of his subordinates, then eaten by the leader. If this is really the case, then the likelihood of our enemy being an evil soul master is extremely high. At the same time, that also means that we're not far away from our enemies."
"I can agree with the first point," Ma Xiaotao said, "however, what basis are you relying on to say that we're not far away from our enemies? Don't these Warm Mist Trees grow in other areas?" Wang Yan had actually able to deduce such a large amount of information with just a tiny clue like this; the others couldn't help but admire him because of this. Because of this, Ma Xiaotao had also spoken in a polite manner that befit a student.
Wang Yan smiled confidently. "I mentioned that the Warm Mist Tree is a relatively rare type of tree, right? Since it's rare, it obviously doesn't appear very frequently. I only mentioned the environment required for it to grow, but in reality, the number of places it grows in is still extremely few in number. There are a relatively low number of Warm Mist Trees here, and the one that I found was the largest tree. To soul masters with Yin-attributed martial souls, not only does its core assist them, it can also increase their internal organs' resistance to the coldness of their own Yin attribute. Such a thing is very hard to come by. If it were you, would you give up on something like this? Thus, I can practically guarantee that they aren't far away from here, considering the fact that they've discovered and extracted a core already. We're quite lucky; we were able to find our target without going very far. If we hadn't, considering how large this mountain range is, we would've had to scout from the air tomorrow. If we'd done that, we definitely would've attracted their attention, and thus would've had to defend against them."
Everyone present couldn't help but gain a new level of respect for Wang Yan by the time they'd finished listening to him. Of the fourteen students present, he'd only taught Huo Yuhao, Wang Dong, and Xiao Xiao. However, the three of them only knew that he was very knowledgeable and erudite in the field of martial souls; they'd never thought that his experience with the wilderness would be just as abundant.
"Teacher Wang, what should we do now?" Ma Xiaotao asked subconsciously, "Should we just wait for an opportunity to present itself?"
Wang Yan shook his head. "No, we have to take the initiative. When people move about in the forest, they'll always leave a few traces behind. Even though it's already dark and I can't locate these traces by myself, we have Yuhao's Spiritual Detection. Thus, it won't be too hard for us to find them. Yuhao, follow me; listen to my orders and scout ahead."
"Okay." Huo Yuhao quickly walked over to Wang Yan. He also wanted to learn how to locate unknown enemies within a forest.
Wang Yan led them three hundred or so meters deeper into the forest, then stopped in front of a Warm Mist Tree. "Out of all the destroyed Warm Mist Trees I found earlier, the tracks near this one are the most recent. In other words, it was destroyed last. Yuhao, use your Spiritual Detection to search the thirty meters around us."
"Understood." Now that Huo Yuhao's cultivation had increased, he could share his Spiritual Detection with a total of ten people. However, he only shared it with Wang Yan for the sake of improving the accuracy of his probe.
A three-dimensional image of their surroundings immediately appeared in their minds. Huo Yuhao manipulated his spiritual power and stopped his Spiritual Detection from instantly encapsulating the thirty meters around him; instead, he slowly had it extend outwards, one meter at a time. Doing it this way would make it so that the information wouldn't immediately flood Wang Yan's mind. On the contrary, it would appear progressively, which was more beneficial for analysis and scouting.
Wang Yan gave Huo Yuhao a thumbs up. Of the many students he'd taught in the past, the one he liked the most was the person in front of him. Huo Yuhao might not be the smartest student he'd ever taught, but he was definitely the most mature, steady, and hard-working person among his peers. Furthermore, he was also the most talented student he'd ever taught.
"Stop." Wang Yan whispered, afterwich Huo Yuhao's detection radius immediately came to a halt.
Wang Yan motioned for him to stay where he was, then slowly moved to the right and squatted down to a patch of undergrowth. He carefully observed it for a while, and after verifying what he'd seen with Huo Yuhao's Spiritual Detection, he waved to the rest and slowly moved in the direction of the undergrowth.
Huo Yuhao hurriedly followed behind Wang Yan, making sure to keep his Spiritual Detection activated. The others all followed behind him. Ma Xiaotao and Dai Yueheng flanked the control-type and auxiliary-type soul masters in the middle, while the agility-type Xi Xi and Jiang Nannan vanished into the night, evidently scouting their surroundings. Everyone advanced in an orderly manner, and even though they weren't quick, Wang Yan's pace was extremely stable.
At the same time, Huo Yuhao shared his Spiritual Detection with Ma Xiaotao, Dai Yueheng, and Wang Dong. They began to respect Wang Yan more and more as they continued to carefully observe their surroundings.
Wang Yan was able to discover a few subtle clues with Huo Yuhao's help, such as a few snapped branches, some shallow footprints in the dirt, pieces of cloth on the trees, and a few bloodstains left on the brambles around them.
They gradually left the woods as they continued to these clues, and advanced at the same slow pace for an hour.
"Stop." Wang Yan suddenly raised his hand and said. The students that were following him immediately crouched down and leaned towards him.
"Our search shouldn't have been wrong," Wang Yan whispered, "there are a large number of messy footprints in the area in front of us. Evidently, many people frequently pass through here. Our enemies shouldn't be far away now. Everyone, adjust your conditions. Prepare for battle."
The trees in front of them had become extremely sparse, and even Ma Xiaotao and Dai Yueheng were able to clearly notice the tracks he was talking about with Huo Yuhao's Spiritual Detection. Wang Yan had clearly discovered the correct location.
"Teacher Wang, amazing." Ma Xiaotao praised him in a low voice. The other students clearly respected him much more now.
Wang Yan smiled bitterly. "My talent in cultivation is quite poor, thus I've focused most of my energy on these sort of miscellaneous things; it's nothing much. Once this tournament is over, it's very likely that I'll become a teacher in the inner courtyard. If you're interested, I can teach you all these skills then. Now then, Yuhao, how far can your Spiritual Detection reach?"
Huo Yuhao paused for a moment. "If I direct it in a straight line, it should be able to reach two hundred meters or so. However, I can't use it that way for very long, as the drain on both my spiritual power and soul power is extremely large."
Wang Yan nodded. "That's fine. Scan the area from our eleven o'clock to three o'clock and see whether you can find anything."
"Okay." Huo Yuhao eyes focused, causing the gold in his pupils to deepen somewhat. He immediately switched his Spiritual Detection from its usual omnidirectional mode to its unidirectional mode, then sent it forwards in the direction that Wang Yan had told him to. His head slightly swayed as he scanned the circular sector per Wang Yan's instructions.
"I can faintly sense a hillside five hundred meters to the left. These footsteps also seem to lead to the bottom of that hill." Huo Yuhao quickly gave an answer as he retracted his Spiritual Detection. A detection like this had drained him by quite a bi.
Wang Yan nodded. "Since that's the case, our enemies should be beneath that hill. If I'm not wrong, the cave that they're hiding in is also there. When we make our move later, we'll have to confirm who they are first. Once we're sure that they're members the Hand of Death, I don't think I need to tell you guys what to do. The preparatory team will be with me, and they'll be in charge of assisting you guys. Xiaotao, we'll be relying on you to attack them."